In 2019 the ACT Government opted out of bidding to stage FIFA Women’s World Cup games at Canberra Stadium.
The government followed up a couple of years later, announcing it was also opting out of the process to be a training base for World Cup teams.
With the World Cup about to kick off, there is renewed interest in why Canberra is not featuring in any way apart from an exhibition at the University of Canberra (UC).
The angst is understandable given the prominent role Canberra has played in developing women’s football. It is also understandable given the way the community has embraced women’s sport in general. It is very popular here.
Equally understandable are the reasons government opted out of paying big money to secure games or undertake to be a training base for teams.
If the city staged games, Canberra Stadium would have been out of action for three months, leaving the Raiders to find an alternate venue for the back half of the rugby league season.
It was also going to cost millions to win the rights to host games. In the case of securing teams to base themselves in Canberra, the ACT Government would have to underwrite their travel costs to and from the training base. This figure is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Not surprisingly, the five cities hosting games in Australia are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
Of interest is the location of the training bases, with the Central Coast hosting England and Germany.
The remainder of the training bases are located in and around the five hosting cities.
The ACT Government’s reasoning behind opting out of hosting games and being a training base is that its funding focus for football is the new ‘Home of Football’ in Throsby, as well as individual games involving the Matildas and Socceroos.
I am against the ACT Government paying huge amounts of money for the rights to host major sporting events, regardless of the code, and despite the need to develop sport in our region. The cost can mean other opportunities cannot be undertaken for specific sports due to lack of funds.
Even if the ACT did secure World Cup games, the games were unlikely to involve the Matildas.
There is no doubt the issue will come to the fore as the World Cup progresses, but the lack of involvement of Canberra is somewhat understandable.